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Nevada doctor: insurance companies refused patients lifesaving treatment, offered to pay for assisted suicide

1 June 2017

"It's a lot cheaper to grab a couple of drugs and kill you than it is to provide you with life sustaining therapy".

A Nevada doctor has said that insurance companies in states where assisted suicide is legal have refused to cover expensive lifesaving treatments for patients - but have offered to pay to end their lives.

Dr Brian Callister, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Nevada, told the Washington Times that two separate insurance companies refused his request to transfer patients to California and Oregon for procedures not performed at his hospital. 

Life in insurers hands

"And in both cases, the insurance medical director said to me, ‘Brian, we’re not going to cover that procedure or the transfer, but would you consider assisted suicide?’" Dr. Callister said. Neither patient was terminal, and he had said nothing to prompt the suggestion. In fact, in both cases, the treatment had a good chance of saving their lives: "It was estimated that their chance for cure — cure, not just adding time — of about 50 percent in one case and 70 percent in the other case." 

Battle throughout the states

The claim comes as more than a dozen states are actively considering proposals to legalise physician-assisted suicide, including Nevada, where Dr. Callister testified against the proposed bill, which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. In February, Washington became the sixth U.S. jurisdiction to enact such a law, joining California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that "helping" terminally ill patients to end their lives does not violate state law.

As part of the fight against the trend to allow assisted suicide, the Patients Rights Action Fund yesterday released a video featuring Dr Callister: 


The fight against euthanasia and assisted suicide is raging around the world; even in the last few weeks, a bill to legalise it was defeated in Tasmania, while another was voted down in Maine.

In the UK, the Conservative party parliamentary candidate for the Isle of Wight put out a very strong statement marking his opposition to euthanasia. See our election guide for information on how to ask your candidates about euthanasia and other life issues. 

News in brief:

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